In this series of posts I thought it would be useful for you to meet the other members of the plastic surgery team that help me with your cosmetic surgery in the operating room and surgery center.
Every plastic surgeon, who is lucky enough, has a team of nurses that he or she works with regularly. whether in an outpatient surgery center or the hospital there are registered nurses, trained and licensed by the state, who help the plastic surgeon with the surgery.
The operating room nurse’s role has changed over the years. When I first started in plastic surgery over 20 years ago, there were usually two nurses in the operating room. one was opposite me, on the other side of the patient, the surgical assistant, and the other in the room as the circulating nurse.
The nurse who was directly helping me had the role of surgical assistant. no special training was required for this position. The skill were learnt in nursing school and the “on the job”. often the assisting nurse would change positions with the circulating nurse.
The job of the assisting nurse is to hand over the instruments to the cosmetic surgeon, and help in retracting and assisting in any other way.over the past decade this role has been taken over by non-nurse health professionals specifically trained as surgical assistants. The main reason as far as I can see was that it costs less than having a nurse; and in all truth, the nurse was not being used effectively in that capacity.
The circulating nurse is the person who is the patient advocate in the room and the one that is in charge of the patient’s,
- safety and comfort in the operating room
- medications and drugs
- equipment monitoring and utilization
- handing the surgical assistant instruments and sutures and other surgical materials.
- keeping track of amounts of tissue removed or implants added
- record keeping and billing for the surgical center
Obviously the circulating nurse has a number of important functions and it is these that require her to have a nursing degree and be licensed.
The functions of the plastic surgery nurse, either as assistant or circulator, are vitally important to the success and smooth running of the operating room and the eventual result of your cosmetic procedure. The establishment of a surgical team that your cosmetic plastic surgeon is comfortable with, and who are in turn comfortable with the surgeon’s routines and preferences will ensure your best plastic surgical result.